Why I Take Pictures - I Don't 'Make Them'

Politically correct camera terminology is drivel for the masses

The war on language, essentially freedom of speech, of expression, has spilled into the world of photography a long time ago. Arguably, it unwittingly began with Ansel Adams, although the reason for his usage of "make" was in explanation of his process and his emphasis on post-processing to complete his image.

His well-known quote: “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”

Fair enough. And I quite agree with this sentiment. In fact, I additionally subscribe to the notion that if you'd don't practice post-processing, with all the same zeal and time spent actually acquiring images - taking shots - then I really don't consider you a real photographer. Not in the traditional sense, at least. Not in the Ansel Adams sense of what it means to be a practicing photographer who gives a damn about his craft.

And this is to my point: Ansel Adams was talking about taking photography to the next level, which is what he literally did. His process didn't end at taking the shot. He had to finish making his images in the dark room.

To be clear, this blog isn't about Ansel Adams and his quote. It's about the photographers whose membership with the PC Police Commission have attempted to poison the well for beginning photographers by implementing appropriate language usage, all the while attempting to shame the rest of us into submission.

It only starts with "making photographs." Taking shots is also a no-no. To take a shot - definitely off limits. And shooting people or to state "I shoot people" is a certain sentence of death or at least a life term in PC Prison.

Let's check in with the late George Carlin for a moment.

I could easily make a compilation video of YouTubers or link you up to articles written by photographers who make it clear that "making" is correct, "taking" is incorrect. And there sure as shit no "shooting" involved, at any appropriate time. But I'm not here to write a hit piece. It doesn't interest me. Plus, I think many photographers just go along with these gurus only because of popularity. To be sure, there are many parrots out there squawking, "make, make, make."


I don't want to tell anyone what to do or what to say. That's not my job nor my passion. My conclusion is for me, and for me alone.

I will continue to say to my wife that "I'm going out shooting" when I mean that I'm going out to "make" photographs. I will continue to use language that seemingly borrows heavily from the firearm industry and all its activities, without guilt or remorse.

You will never hear me say "I make photographs, I don't take them." Because quite to the contrary, I take a lot of photographs, a lot of shots. In fact, I shoot people very frequently.

But will you allow me a suggestion? If any of these shooting terms are actually burning your ears and offending your sensibilities, perhaps you should desensitize yourself? If anything so at least you could move on and focus on the art of photography. Because I really don't think that Ansel Adams had any intention of having his quote used as a blunt-force instrument to control language among members of the photographic community.

Which leads me to my little poem. If you are among The Offended, read this poem until you are either cured or until you want to "shoot me." Either would bring a smile to my face.

Warning: salty language ahead...as if you didn't know!

I Take Pictures – I Don’t Make Them (A Poem)

Oh, fuck me

if I must listen to another

self-important photographer

ramble on like a zombie strobe light

on matters of linguistic litany!

“I don’t take pictures, I make them.”

Oh, fuck me

Not another one of you!

Like glue goo, I inescapably hear you

Like a screw, you’re loose

like Jpeg juice from the

mother goose of all deuce

Oh, fuck me

What’s wrong with taking a

good goddamn picture, Sam?

I suppose you don’t shoot people either?

You make portraits, right?

You like the very idea of softening turd words

into sweet-flowing organic

soft browns and tamed blacks

When you SHOOT in black and white

But you don’t MAKE in black and white


You’re that uptight!

You parrot what other self-important

photographers say

Because somewhere along the way

It became cliché

or passé

to simply be

a beautiful


The next time you feel like

making a photo, Frodo

Why don’t you Bilbo Baggins

yourself up a baloney sandwich?

For all the good it will do ya

Prostrating your way into a bourgeois

social media hub- club of ninnies and nincompoops

Mind you

it’s about as stupid as

me saying,

“I don’t make love,

I take love.”

That’s what you sound like.

So please gently make your way away

from me

and let me indulge in my me-taking

click click tyranny.

Because I take pictures, man!

No apologies, ma’am!

I take pictures like taking candy from a

baby-maker, faker, picture-taker!

I take pictures!

I take pictures away from the setting sun

I take pictures in Golden Hours

Like the Romans took the light of Jesus and God’s only Son

I take images of faces in far away places

I take the light, take the light,

take the light and run!

I’m a doer, not a maker

I’m a proud card-carrying picture taker

I don’t need your words for permission

Because my mission is my decision:

I will always take what light is there.

I can bear the truth of my actions:

Like a bear snapping pictures in its jaws in the river

I snatch salmon from the sensor of my camera like a sinner

I take my dinner!

I don’t “make” time for pathetic, consensual art

I take light like a rapist “makes” sex a la carte

I take my pictures,

and take my pictures RAW

I take what I take, and I take what I saw

So the next time you feel

the need to make photography more real

– more meaningful than taking

– more indulgent like making

daresay that no one really gives one stinky fuck

whether you take a shit

or make a shit

in your photography potluck.

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